The Loss of the Fantome Cruise Ship

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On October 27, 1998, the cruise ship Fantome was lost and has never been found.

The ship was originally built in 1927 by the Duke of Westminster and eventually sold to Windjammer Barefoot Cruises in Miami, Florida in 1969. As the flagship of the Windjammer fleet, Fantome offered Caribbean and Bay of Honduras cruises.

On October 24, 1998, Fantome departed Omoa in Honduras for a one week cruise. At the same time, Hurricane Mitch was over 1,000 miles away in the Caribbean Sea and the forecast path took it to Jamaica and maybe the Yucatan Peninsula. Nevertheless, the Captain of the Fantome, Guyan March decided to go to the Bay Islands until the storm passed.

As can happen with late season hurricanes, Mitch changed course the following day so the Fantome changed its course and went to Belize City where the Captain disembarked all of the disappointed passengers and ten non essential crew members. The ship then left and headed for the Gulf of Mexico to outrun the hurricane. However, once again Mitch changed course, and so the plan changed and the Fantome tried to make for Roatan thinking on the lee side of the island there would be more protection. By now Mitch was a Category 5 Hurricane with winds up to 185 miles an hour. Once again Mitch changed course and now was heading directly for Roatan.

Fantome made one last effort to reach safety and headed east towards the Caribbean. Mitch, however, gained speed and at 4.30 p.m. on October 27, Fantome reported she was in the middle of the storm with 40 foot seas. Shortly afterwards radio contact was lost and Fantome and the 31 crew on board were never found.

All that has since been found of the cruise ship are a couple of life rafts and life vests of the eastern coast of Guanaja.  

 

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